Italian poker ace Luca Pagano was awarded the European Poker Tour (EPT) Player of the Year accolade before the first event in the series started in Barcelona.

Pagano has had 19 cashes and his best finish in the EPT was sixth place in the Monte Carlo no-limit hold'em final in PartyPokerApril this year.

Team PokerStars' player was selected as the winner of the gong by a panel of judges, which included Lee Jones and EPT founder John Duthie.

The 28-year-old was not the only player to receive accolades at the ceremony.

Julian Thew picked up two honours, the Poker Writers Award and one for Best Performance.

Mike McDonald also received recognition, taking home the Best Overseas Player and Peoples Choice gongs.

Pagano used to be a computer programmer but turned poker pro in 2004. Since then he has placed twice in World Series of Poker events. To date, his tournament winnings are in excess of $680,000.